Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Get your khakis

This mild weather has us in the transitional outfit stage, that is neither winter nor summer, when outfits are tricky to plan, with rain, hail or shine all possibilities on the weather front.

So clothes that bridge this gap are your friend, and none more so than a chino trouser, which is big news for ss2012.

And GAP are selling all there chinos (or Khakis as they like to call then) for £25 at the moment - and if you sign up for their emails, you'll get another 15% off discount code. I've ordered the pink pair, tying in with the trend for pastels this season.


{cosmetic pink}

{active blue}

H&M and M&S are also doing some lovely chino styles - the high-street is doing this trend well. Wear them with brogues and a trenchcoat on a chilly day, or when the sun comes out with some ballet pumps and a blazer. These trousers will even take you into evening, looking great with turn-ups and a pair of heels.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Looking ruff

The ruffle is making an appearance as the new collar of 2012. Gone are the Peter Pan and Pussy Bow collars of 2011 - the ruffle is centre stage this year, from the subtle frill as seen on Alexa Chung to the large theatrical ruff as seen on Zooey Deschanel.

{Alexa Chung}

{Zooey Deschanel}

{Elle Fanning}

I found my own ruff collar top in a vintage market just round the corner from Spitalfields Market for just £12. I particularly love the lace detail, and embroidery, which adds to the vintage feel. And the strong v-shaped seam at the front and down the sleeves give it a structured feel.

And here are a couple of high-street alternatives.

{joe ruffled collar blouse, £175 Etoile Isabel Marant}

{natasha top, £79.52 J.Crew}
also in green or polka dot

{ruffle shirt, £32 Oasis}

If you're going super-sized with your ruff, it's best to stick to a neutral colour, to stop it from looking too theatrical or over-blown. Cream, black or grey would all be good options, and pair with your slim-leg jeans to keep it looking modern. And pare back your jewellery - let the ruff do the talking.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Peppermint creams

I had the TV on in the background the other day, and Lorraine Pascale's programme Home Cooking Made Easy came on. And on it she showed us how to make Peppermint Creams, which took me straight back to my childhood, when I used to whip up batches of these sweets before you could say Blue Peter.

Popeye walked in, saw the Peppermint Creams, and nodded approvingly, and with his birthday coming up, I decided to rustle them up as a surprise.

Well, what I wasn't ready for was the baking (although perhaps not technically baking as there is no actual heat involved) nightmare that ensued. I couldn't find Lorraine's recipe on the internet, so I watch the programme again on i-Player and wrote down the ingredients and instructions. So, I basically think she just made the quantities up. The dough was sloppy, and not one bit minty (she suggests using 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint essence, which makes your dough less minty than a well chomped Wrigley's extra). So the ensuing process of adding more icing sugar, and more peppermint essence, went on for hours, trying to get the right consistency.

Anyway, the end result was fine, but I've googled a different recipe, which suggests you use these quantities instead:
320 grams icing sugar
130 grams condensed milk
2 teaspoons of peppermint extract
200 grams dark chocolate

{mix the icing sugar, condensed milk and peppermint
extract in a large mixing bowl, to form a dough}

{roll out your dough to about £1 thickness}

{cut out into shapes of your choice, re-rolling the excess
dough until it's all used up}

{melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot
water, and dip in your mints}

{leave chocolate to set in the fridge, then place in
 a presentation box of your choice}

{I used an empty Laduree box - if you don't know about
Laduree macaroons, have a little look at their website}
{tie a ribbon around, and that's it,  job done}

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A host of golden daffodils

Nothing marks the arrival of spring like a bunch of daffs. They've just started appearing in the supermarket, and their bright yellow trumpet-shaped heads are a sight for our winter-weary eyes. And they're so cheap - they always seems to be on buy one get one free - so you can buy a few bunches and bundle them altogether, because they look their best en masse - to make a big, golden ball of colour.
I found this company a few years ago, when a box of 60 daffodils turned up on my doorstep - and have been a loyal fan every since. Fentogollan's will post their Cornish daffodils, from just £14.95 a box, anywhere in the UK.

{box arrives in the post}

{60 daffodils in their sleeping bag}

{full bloom!}

Right, I'm off to wander lonely as a cloud.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

There's something about Mary

If you haven't heard of Mary Katrantzou these past few weeks, then seriously, where have you been? Mary is the darling of the fashion world at present, currently showing at London Fashion Week and designing a collection for Topshop, which has just been launched to the sound of huge acclaim from the fashion press.

She is known for her highly colourful, highly intricate designs, bursting with pattern and detail and celebrities have backed her by wearing her designs to many a red carpet event - here are Keira Knightley and Alexa Chunng - both fans of her designs:

{Keira Knightley}
{Alexa Chung}

So, the fact that Mary has done a collection for Topshop, means that the look is at least more accessible to us everyday folk - oh, what's that? The collection sold out in three days? Sure.

{Mary Katrantzou for Topshop}

{Mary Katrantzou for Topshop}

However, you can still get your hands on this scarf, which I reckoned was one of the best purchases of the collection - a wear with anything, go with anything scarf, which gives you a slice of genuine fashion gold for a reasonable £60.
For those of you looking for something more clothing based, here are a few high-street picks. The high-street has picked up brilliantly on this trend, but favours designs made from my fabric nemesis that is polyester. But here are a few items I picked out which are polyester-free, and pack a bit of a Mary-style punch. And don't be afraid to mix and match your patterms - a pattern clash can only be seen as a GOOD THING for ss2012. Maybe take some inspiration from Pat Butcher's (RIP) boudoir - the floral bedspread, the patterned wallpaper, and then some floral curtains in the mix too - you're on the right lines.

{palm mirage shift dress, £48 Warehouse}
{floral tee, £28 Warehouse}

{mirror floral top, £38 Warehouse}

{silk colour block tribal dress, £65 Warehouse} 

{scarf print shirt, £39.99 Zara}
{combined printed blouse, £39.99 Zara}

Interestingly, you'll never see Mary wearing anything other than black - she likes to keep her own palate clear of pattern. Each to her own.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Colour blocking

*spoiler alert - Anna Wintour in looking almost happy shocker*

{accessorised with a hint of a smile}

So, colour blocking was my favourite trend of 2011 and I embraced it fully. Am delighted to see that it's sticking with us for 2012, with the formidable Anna Wintour leading the crowd with her orange/red combo. 

Word on the street is that "tangerine tango" is the colour of SS2012, and I never imagined it would look so lovely with classic camel.

My hero dress for 2011 was an orange and navy blue colour block dress from Cos, which featured in two weddings and a trip to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace no less! Liz loved my dress, I could tell, which I'd accessorised with emerald green high-heeled pumps, a green saucer hat, bold green necklace, and an orange handbag. But my highlight of the day wasn't tea on the lawn at Buckingham Palace, but when a man stopped me on the concourse at London Waterloo station to take a photo of my outfit, which in his words was "amazing". Could have turned around and gone home right there, I was happy as Larry.

Anyway, here is the Cos version they've got in store at the moment - a lovely wool mix. And perfect for a spring wedding.

Here are some other high street options - one skirt in egg yolk yellow, again from my high-street hero Cos which will go with everything - and a selection of tops to mix and match.

1. canvas cotton skirt, £49 from Cos
2. 'easy' tee, available in 6 colours, £12 from ASOS
3. boyfriend t-shirt, available in 7 colours. Looks good tucked into this skirt, £10 from ASOS
4. metallic knit top, £55 from Cos
5. grosgrain cardi, available in 5 colours (the bright red is also tempting), £35 from Warehouse

Friday, 17 February 2012

Light up

I've been after some new bedside table lamps for a while - and I've been longing for a pair of these:

{Bestlite BL1 Table Lamp, £415}

But funnily enough, I had to think twice about spending £830 on a pair of lamps, beautiful as they are.

And then I found this:

{Walton task lamp, £35 from BHS}

And there's even free delivery.

Just got to work on Popeye lifting the lamp purchase ban, and then we're in business.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Getting bibby with it

I know that this trend is now old news,  but I'm still a little obsessed with bib necklaces at the moment, or statement necklaces as you sometimes see them referred to. Nothing transforms a plain t-shirt or dress like one of these, and they are an easy way of taking an outfit from day to night.

Here are some in action - the biggest proponent of this look has to be the eternally stylish (and often irritating) Olivia Palermo.

I saw my friend Blondie at the weekend, and I almost yanked this necklace from her lovely neck, I loved it that much. And where is it from? New Look! And for only £7.99 and they are doing buy one get one free - would be rude not to take advantage.

So I went onto the website to have a little lookie, and I was regaled by necklace after necklace of sheer loveliness.

Get your peepers around these.

{filigree collar necklace, 5.99}

And there's free delivery on all orders until midnight tonight.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Take it to the maxx

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before on this blog, my love for TK Maxx. And if I haven't, then apologies, because this shop is nothing short of brilliant.

I don't get clothes from there very much, but the home section and beauty section are excellent, with the handbag and accessory departments coming up trumps too.

Their books and stationery section has been getting better and better recently, and being something of a stationery obsessive, I was chuffed when I found this set of notecards in there the other day, for £2. 

{notecards, £2 from TK Maxx}

They are very tiny, and could also be used as gift tags for presents. And when I read the back of the card, it said the print was taken from the Warner Textile Archive. Never heard of them.

{pattern from the Warner Textile Archive}

So I looked them up. Warner Textile Archive is Britain’s second largest collection of flat textiles, and narrates the rich history of a great British industry from its roots in the late eighteenth century to the flourishing success of Warner & Sons in the twentieth century.

The collection contains nearly 100,000 textile and wallpaper samples, paper designs, documents and other industry records representing two centuries of creativity and commerce.

And they are running Textile Fair 2012 which will be held on March 25th 2012 in Braintree, Essex. Tickets are just £4.50 (in advance) and the fair is a celebration of vintage textiles, beads, patchwork, smocking, spinning and quilting - all demonstrated by the region's best craftspeople.

Even if you can't make the fair, the Warner Textile Archive Gallery is open every Wednesday, and looks well worth a visit. 

I feel a day trip coming on.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Great Mystery

Whenever I go and stay at my mum's, I make sure I pinch a bit of her "The Great Mystery" face mask, by Philosophy. 

{the great mystery by Philosophy}

This is one of the best face masks I've ever used. And one of its best points? You only leave it on for 60 seconds. So no walking around with goo on your face for 20 minutes, waiting for the thing to dry. You can use it in the shower - smooth it on, and feel the mask warm up on your face, and massage it in until it turns white. Then leave on for one minute, and rinse off.

{quick and easy to use}

It gets rid of any dry, flaky skin, leaving your skin looking brighter and fresher. This mask deep-cleanses and moisturises your skin, and your make-up goes on much better after using it. A real hero product.

Thanks mum.